Seven-year old Wiltonian inspires Pediatric Stroke Awareness Month
Inspired by 7-year-old Wiltonian Patrick “Patch” Angerame, who suffered a stroke before he was born, U.S. Rep. Jim Himes (CT-4), Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Sen. Christopher Murphy (D-CT) introduced resolutions in the House and Senate on April 30, to recognize May as National Pediatric Stroke Awareness Month.
“Our youngest [Patch] had a stroke before he was born and it affects our family wholly,” said Patch’s mother, Jennifer Angerame.
“We’re always surprised how nobody thinks that children can have a stroke, but they do — frequently.”
Himes, Blumenthal and Murphy’s resolution:
- Urges support of programs, services and organizations that provide increased awareness of and education about pediatric strokes.
- Supports the work of the National Institutes of Health for medical research and work on pediatric strokes.
- Urges coordination among federal, state and local governments to improve treatments and prognoses for children who suffer from pediatric strokes.
“We usually think of strokes as affecting only the elderly, but strokes are a leading cause of cerebral palsy and disability in children, and can even be fatal to them,” Himes said in an April 30 press release.
Blumenthal said increased awareness of pediatric stroke will enable more to be done to “recognize, diagnose and treat this horrible condition that affects children across the country.”
“This resolution helps accomplish our goal to raise awareness that a pediatric stroke can cause permanent neurologic damage or death if not promptly diagnosed and treated,” said Blumenthal.
When Patch was months old, Angerame said, he was delayed in holding his bottle and sitting up.
“I just chalked it up to I always had him in a stroller or bouncy seat,” she said, “but it was at his 9-month checkup that … our pediatrician said we needed to go see a neurologist, which was kind of shocking.”
Strokes that occur during the last few months of pregnancy to 1 month of age are known as “perinatal strokes,” while those that occur in one-month-olds to 18-year-olds are “childhood strokes.”
The American Stroke Association (ASA) estimates that pediatric strokes occur in approximately one of every 3,500 live births and are among the top 12 causes of death for children between the ages of 1 and 14 in the United States.
While the cause of most perinatal strokes remains unknown, according to the ASA, risk factors include:
- Congenital heart disease.
- Disorders of the placenta.
- Blood clotting disorders.
- Infections like meningitis.
Childhood stroke risk factors include:
- Congenital heart disease.
- Diseases affecting the brain’s arteries.
- Infections affecting the brain or other organs.
- Head trauma.
- Sickle cell disease.
- Autoimmune disorders.
Murphy said he hopes National Pediatric Stroke Awareness Month reminds everyone that strokes can have devastating consequences at every stage of development.
Angerame said the stroke has affected Patch in a number of ways.
“He has cerebral palsy because of the stroke and it has affected his left side. He can use his left hand, but it’s more of a ‘helper’ hand,” she said.
“It has affected his gait — the way he walks [and] he’s had some global delays. He’s been in therapy since we got the diagnosis.”
Just last fall, Patch had surgery to do some corrective foot work, said Angerame.
“He’s had some struggles and he will for the rest of his life, but he’s doing great,” she said. “We were told he might never walk or talk, and he’s doing both.”
Patch, who attends Miller-Driscoll, is “a spunky little fellow,” said Angerame, and “an all-around great kid.”
She and her family think the resolution is “awesome.”
“When we originally reached out to Blumenthal, we needed his help with some insurance issues, and he and his office jumped right on it and helped us get what we needed,” she said.
“He [Blumenthal] has, for the past couple of years, been supportive and getting resolutions to the floor and just helping bring awareness not only locally here in Wilton or the state of Connecticut, but also nationally.”
Blumenthal said he is “proud and honored” to have gotten to know Patch and work with him on this vitally important issue.
“Patch’s story, and the stories of other children like him, are an inspiration to me,” he said, “and I am committed to continue working hard for the community.”
To learn more about pediatric strokes, visit iapediatricstroke.org and strokeassociation.org.